New York City Triathlon:
July 26, 2009
Where to begin?
I suppose race morning is as good a place as any. It would fair to say that New York in July can be humid. And hot. It was both. I woke up at 4:45am to the sound of rain pouring on the roof. The downpour obligingly let me get down to the race start at the 79th Street Boat Basin, before soaking everyone that didn’t get wet enough the first time with a second shower. Bikes were dropped off the night before and locked up at T1, so saddles and tires were wet by the time we got there. There were plenty of toilets, and the New York summer definitely made those babies percolate. Swim start was a mile upriver on the Hudson from 79th Street, so after dropping off gear and checking on bikes, everyone moved uptown in a huge perastaltic movement that deposited us on the river, at 98th Street. It was a big race with over 3,000 athletes, and 4 waves in my age group.
The swim was fast. The current was so strong that we had to hold on to the safety rope attached to the jetty to avoid being swept out to Greenland or Portugal. There is no way to swim upriver in this sucker. Swallowing the water is also not recommended. No surprise attacks by jelly fish from the deep this year, but the river definitely left an oily aftertaste in my mouth that I had the pleasure of retasting a couple of times during the bike. I made a mental note to post-humously donate my skin to medical research. The course itself is a little disappointing for those expecting a true river swim in the middle of the Hudson. Swimmers are restricted to a narrow course close to the seawall and the exit is up a set of stairs (and over a timing mat) close to 79th Street. I expected this to be a bottleneck but it was not. My swim time was 18 minutes (and I just floated down on my back) – definitely a good course for weak swimmers.
T1 is a little tricky, with a 700 yard run to the bikes, and some sharp turns and a steep hill on the way out. After this the course was very flat. I was flying in the high 20’s and low 30’s for stretches at a time, with a top speed of 39.2mph. The northbound lane of the Westside Highway was shut down for the race so the course was a straight-as-an-arrow shot up towards the Bronx, and then a lazy turn to the right, quick U-turn and all the way back to 79th Street. An easy ride, but I saw many mechanical failures (mostly tires, but also a surprising number of chain pops that apparently couldn’t be corrected on the fly), and hundreds of water bottles popping off bikes due to the uneven road surface. Maybe not hundreds, but a lot. The best part of the bike race was watching New Yorkers be themselves. Everyone in New York is a rock star Macca-like triathlete stud (of course), so everyone has the right to ride on the left. Which means it’s almost impossible to pass anyone. Now imagine the almost stream of constant verbal abuse from the guys trying to pass. Fantastic.
T2 was uneventful, and the run takes you up 72nd Street into Central Park for a clockwise loop around the West side and back down to 72nd Street on the East side of the park, and then into the middle for the finish. Some technical hill climbs. I lost my focus on the run, missed my mom, cried a little, but pulled it together for the finish. Great support from the crowd all the way through. Hydration every mile with Cytomax and water.
Overall, a speedy course – final time was 2:21:33.